Wait...What?...Runs out of money!
Okay, a little background for those not familiar with this breaking story.
Since 2009 the City Of Los Angeles has been operating a gun buyback program.
According to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Since the inception of the program in 2009, there has been a 39 percent drop in gang crimes and 33 percent drop in shots-fired calls, translating into 241 fewer people shot in the city.”Wow, I did not know that this program was so popular. Granted, I don’t live in Los Angeles, but seriously, this seems like the kind of story that would have garnered nationwide attention long before now. It turns out that this is an annual program that is usually scheduled for Mother’s Day but was moved up due to the increased awareness brought by the tragedy in Newtown. But anyway, back to the Mayor:
Again in speaking of the gun buyback program that has been in place since 2009
Mayor Villaraigosa credits the gun buyback program, which allows residents to turn in weapons with "no questions asked," with getting close to 8,000 firearms off the streets.”More below the fold.
According to nbclosangeles the citizens who turned in the guns (including anti tank rocket launchers by the way) received Ralphs Supermarket gift cards in return. These cards were valued at $100 and $200. $100 for a handgun, shotgun or a rifle, and $200 for an assault rifle. No word on what they paid for the two old LAWS anti-tank rocket launchers.
Anyway, I put a pencil to this equation and came to the following conclusion. In one day Ralphs Supermarkets just bought some of the most positive press they could have ever hoped to garner for just over $200,000. Lawrence did a segment on this last night and concluded that he’s driving past Whole Foods and shopping at Ralphs from now on. I’m sure he’s not alone. In fact I know of about 2000 gift card recipients from just this one day event that are also going to be shopping at Ralphs. And I bet they are not going to limit their spending to just the $100 or $200 gift card amount.
It appears that this is really a simple program. What do you need? Cops, cash and guns. I’m sure we have plenty of willing police and sheriffs departments anxious to get guns off of their streets. It’s apparent that we also have plenty of citizens that are anxious to get the guns out of their homes. In Los Angeles people actually waited in line for up to two hours in order to get rid of their guns. That leaves us with the question of where we get the cash.
As I stated above, it seems to me that this is excellent public relations for any corporation. In this day and age corporations sponsor lots of things in the public sphere and that list from time to time includes things that I’m sure they wish they didn’t sponsor. Rush Limbaugh immediately comes to mind, but I digress. This would appear to be an absolute win for any corporate PR department. There are plenty of huge corporations that are in serious need of some good PR right about now. And these corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash. Trillions in fact.
Ralphs Supermarkets is a Kroger company. According to the Kroger website they own 2422 stores in 31 States. These stores include Kroger, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Qfc, and Smiths. With Ralphs they have seen first hand how successful this program can be, so I hope they plan to expand it to their other entities. But why not other corporations? Corporations that are in serious need of some good public relations these days. The banks, telecoms, health insurers, energy companies or any of the multitudes of bad actors we’ve seen over the last decade. How about you Wal-Mart! I know you sell guns to people that want them, but what stops you from buying guns back from people that don’t. Hell, in the age of gift cards and vanity credit cards any company can slap their name on a Visa or MasterCard, participate in a gun buyback program, and get some much needed positive PR out of it.
If we consider the price structure for the Los Angeles buyback program:
$1 million gets 6,666 guns off of the streets so $100 million buys back 666,600 guns and $1 billion scores us 6,666,000 guns. Considering that there are approximately 300 million guns in the US this seems feasible. And this money goes right back into the economy. At the billion-dollar level it’s starting to resemble a small corporate sponsored public stimulus instead of the dreaded government sponsored public stimulus conservatives love to hate. Who is the loser here?
We need to urge our political representatives and police chiefs to go out and get these corporations to ante up. A little prodding should be all that is needed to get them to see the light. How about the Vice-Presidents newly formed task force? How about a White House petition? They seem to be popular these days. I sign DKOS petitions all the time. I don’t know the logistics of these DKOS petitions but is this something we can do? Is it something we should do? Am I missing something on this? I fear that this is more complex than I make it out to be but it sure seems like a “no brainer” to me.
Conclusion: This does not have to be a government buyback of our guns, although I would support that also. It can be a corporate buyback instead. That is something that may be more palatable to a large segment of our population and anything that gets guns off of the street has to be a considered a step in the right direction.
Note: In doing research for this diary I did see that these buyback programs are being done in scattered cities throughout the country and even internationally. I guess the Australia program has to be considered the mother of all buyback programs. So I’ll grant that while this not a new idea, it is certainly an idea that needs to be greatly expanded upon and even privately sponsored.